📈 The broad market suffered sharp losses this week as investors grappled with more hawkish than expected Federal Reserve interest rate projections.
For most of 2023, downsizing and massive layoffs have run rampant across the private sector. But the public sector — specifically local, state, and federal governments — has been rapidly adding new employees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public sector jobs have increased by 327,000 so far in 2023. These jobs are made more attractive through higher pay, flexibility, and a simplified application process.
In global economic news, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned that global economic growth could slow to 2.7% in 2024. If this projection holds, it would make 2024 the slowest year for global growth since 2008, excluding 2020. The main factors limiting growth are persistently high inflation and increased interest rates.
In the US, the issue of elevated inflation and interest rates could be exacerbated by a pending government shutdown. If the shutdown remains short-lived, it likely wouldn’t have a dramatic impact on the US economy. It would, however, cut off the flow of economic data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This data is crucial, impacting both investors and the Federal Reserve. Without it, the Fed could be forced to make key policy decisions without clear guidance.
👀 What to Be on the Lookout for This Week
This week, be sure to keep an eye out for these economic releases:
Tuesday: Case Shiller, New Homes
Wednesday: Durable Goods Orders, 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage
Thursday: GDP Growth Rate, Core PCE prices, Pending Home Sales
Friday: Spending, Income
Additionally, the following companies will hand in their latest earnings reports:
Monday: Thor Industries
Thursday: Accenture, Carmax, Nike
📰 In Other News
Disney fans rejoice: Disney plans to invest $60 billion into its parks and cruise ships over the next decade. The entertainment giant has access to approximately 1,000 developable acres. It hinted at the possibility of introducing a Frozen attraction or bringing the fictional world of Wakanda from the Black Panther franchise to reality.
America’s new #1 trade partner: It looks like the American consumers’ appetite for avocados may be stronger than for electronics and fast fashion. Mexico has officially dethroned China as the United States’ #1 trade partner. This news comes as the US looks to reduce supply-chain reliance on one of its geopolitical rivals and source imports closer to home.
Fossil feud: The state of California sued ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, and other major US oil companies. The lawsuit alleges the companies downplayed the danger of climate change and accuses them of orchestrating a decades-long disinformation campaign to hide the correlation between fossil fuel production and climate change. If found liable, the oil giants must contribute to an abatement fund that will be used to finance recovery efforts related to extreme weather disasters worsened by climate change.
Rising cybercrime: This past week, Clorox, MGM, and Caesars all fell victim to cyberattacks. Due to the attacks, Clorox faced shortages of popular products, while MGM shut down casino floors and locked guests out of their rooms.
💻Remote Work Is Thriving Along the Coasts
American workers got a taste of freedom during the pandemic — and, according to new data from the US Census, they have yet to give it up.
With the pandemic came work-from-home rules that created a sense of unbridled freedom across the workforce, as people swapped hour-long commutes with hitting the gym in the afternoon, and spending time with their loved ones. And the new norm evidently resonated, as every single state counted more remote workers now than in 2019.
According to the Census, over 15% of the US workforce worked from home last year. It also found remote work is most common along the East and West coasts and in major metro areas.
But this shift may not be as welcome in those cities as it is by the workers who live there. Ironically, these are the regions that rely the most on in-office work to fuel their economies.
Changing City Life
Although remote work is mostly found along the coasts and in major metropolitan areas, almost all states have recorded an increase in the number of remote workers within their borders.
When it comes to cities with the most flexible workforces, the outdoor-friendly states of California and Colorado reign supreme. In particular, Boulder, Denver, San Francisco, and San Jose all have the highest share of remote workers, in that order. Austin and Washington D.C. also rounded out America’s top 10 most remote-friendly cities.
On the flip side, the Southeast has lagged behind the national average when it comes to the share of the population that's working remotely. In particular, Mississippi had the lowest share of remote workers in the US.
Historically, workers have flocked to the city because that's where the opportunities were. But America is now at a turning point. A large portion of workers no longer have to be shackled to a specific city to do their job. So what will happen to America's largest cities if a large portion of the workforce leaves?
Adjusting to the New Normal
The data shows cities are more likely to be home to remote workers. But paradoxically, places with large concentrations of office buildings, restaurants, and entertainment venues are also the areas that rely on in-office work culture the most. If employees aren't flocking to major downtown metros each day, then the traditional downtown economy will no doubt suffer.
To save the American downtown, employers first tried to lure employees back to the office. But, so far, these attempts have been largely unsuccessful. Looking forward, the next solution will most likely be a revamping of downtown areas, so that workers, employers, and cities alike can better adjust to the new norm of remote work.
Instead of allocating thousands of square feet for office space, office buildings could be converted into residential areas, while central business districts could be reimagined as mixed-use neighborhoods. A few years from now, America’s most iconic cities may look completely different. Although change is always jarring, this transition comes with ample opportunity for cities to reinvent themselves in a way that best suits their residents.
✊ Strikes Are Surging Across America
Who’s on Strike?
In recent months, waves of strikes have swept through virtually every industry — from renowned Hollywood actors to Starbucks baristas — as workers seeking better pay.
The UPS Teamsters union narrowly avoided a strike earlier this summer. Had the walkout taken place, it could’ve been the largest single-company strike in US history, with the potential to slow down postal services and disrupt the economy at large. Although the union and logistics giant reached a deal, disputes between employers and labor forces have not ended, with more issues yet to be resolved.
The Hollywood writers and actors unions — with a combined workforce of 180,000 between them — have been on strike for months. The United Auto Workers union, representing more than 400,000 active workers across Ford, General Motors, and Jeep-parent Stellantis, has enacted a series of smaller strategic strikes as well.
With tensions flaring in industries across the board, it prompts the question: What is the underlying cause behind these picket lines?
What’s at Stake?
For years now, workers’ wages have remained stagnant, while corporate profits have been channeled primarily to executives.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, between 1979 and 2022, inflation-adjusted wages for the top 1% of workers rose by 145%. Wages for the bottom 90% rose a mere 16% over the same period.
What’s more, in 1989, the average ratio of CEO-to-worker compensation stood at an already eye-popping 59-to-1. As of 2021, an average CEO earns 399 times more than the average worker. In other words, the ratio between top and lower-level executives has increased almost sevenfold over the past two decades.
Finally, in 2022, median compensation for a CEO reached $22.3 million. This means that, in a 40-hour workweek, the average CEO would bring home over $11,000 per hour. Meanwhile, the federal minimum wage is still just $7.25 per hour, unchanged for the past decade.
The Bigger Picture
A small strike here or there would typically indicate an isolated issue with a specific company. When strikes are unfolding across dozens of industries simultaneously, however, there’s most likely an underlying issue. Over the past few decades, executive compensation and the wealth of the richest Americans has ballooned. Now, workers are demanding their fair share of these profits.
In their argument for increased wages, the UAW is advocating for a 40% wage growth. When questioned about the presumed magnitude of this request, the union's president pointed out that CEO compensation at Ford, GM, and Stellantis had grown 40% over the past four years. In comparison, pay for workers has stayed largely stagnant.
Despite the recent uptick in strikes over the past year, union strikes in the US remain at historically low levels. Compared to the 1970s, present-day America witnessed 70% fewer strikes. Moreover, union membership now stands at only 10%, a considerable decline from the 18% seen in 1985.
Today’s labor force may be going down the right path toward achieving greater income equality, but the fight is likely only just beginning.
In Louisiana, Alaska, and Alabama, property tax bills can be as low as $200. Meanwhile, in New Jersey, New York, and Virginia, property tax bills can be as high as $10,000.
A new law in New York state requires employers to list starting salary ranges in any job listings. It’s the fourth state to pass similar legislation in a push to bring more transparency to worker pay.
The cost of health insurance has been declining roughly 3% to 4% a month since October 2022. But the CPI for health insurance is expected to start rising just over 1% month over month, which could drive inflation back up.
Banks are starting to see more credit deterioration, savings declines, and spending slowdowns. If consumer spending continues to slow, it risks making recessionary concerns a reality.
65% of Gen Z and Millennials worry about the impact Baby Boomers will have on their financial future. 48% believe their money habits are passed down from their parents.